Probation ordered for man accused of stalking Mormon church president

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 13 2011 4:38 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A man accused of stalking LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced to probation.

Benjamin Tucker Staples, 36, pleaded no contest to stalking, a class A misdemeanor. Third District Judge Randall Skanchy sentenced him to 365 days in jail, with 298 days suspended. Tucker was given credit for the 67 days he spent in jail while the case was pending.

Staples is to spend one year on probation, during which time he is to stay 1,000 feet away from the LDS Church Office Building, President Monson and the church leader's residence, according to court records. He was also ordered to undergo substance abuse and mental health evaluations.

Staples went to the LDS Church Office Building, 50 E. North Temple, asking for the church leader at least five times, witnesses said. At one point, he told security officers that the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was "the only one who could solve my problems." Security staff said he might have been referring to custody issues with his wife. Other times, Staples said he was Jesus Christ.

Though Staples never threatened anyone and never carried a weapon, security officials said they worried for the safety of those in the office building. Staples could be argumentative and "delusional," witnesses said.

Emiley Morgan Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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